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Teaching – Thoughts Provoked by #hudteachmeet

16 Mar

After attending my first TeachMeet in Huddersfield I started reflecting on my own experiences of teaching. I wasn’t initially going to attend the TeachMeet because I thought ‘well I don’t really teach’ but I was talked around at the last minute!

Teaching is not my favourite part of being a librarian. It’s not why I decided to become a librarian. So far it hasn’t been a core part of past job descriptions, working in roles where doing the research for people is still the focus. However I now work in a university, so teaching is naturally a bigger part of the job.  I enjoy one to ones but delivering group training or teaching sessions can prove more stressful.  I actually love speaking in front of an audience. My training in improvisation means I’m good at thinking on my feet so I don’t get nervous or panic about speaking to a group. Presentations I’m fine with however teaching is more than that. I am not very good at some of the things that come with running formal training sessions, for example managing a group of people with different levels or experience, coordinating activities and facilitating interaction.

A lot of librarians I speak to have a surprising amount of prior teaching experience. I have some prior teaching experience which I do not look back on with fond memories:

  • As a drama student I had to do some teaching as part of a Theatre in the Community module.  One assessment involved facilitating a drama workshop to a group adult male prisoners in a prison. Going to the prison was fun however I wouldn’t have survived the workshop without my classmates. The other assessment was to design and deliver a drama workshop to the rest of my class, which went spectacularly wrong on the day. I got my lowest marks for this module.
  • I once thought applying for the TeachFirst graduate scheme was a good idea. At the assessment centre I realised as soon as I arrived that I definitely did not want to be a teacher.  I probably had the worst, most ill thought out lesson planned they had ever seen and crumbled in front of a group of interviewers pretending to be disruptive teenagers in a classroom.

I’m starting to enjoy delivering group training more as time goes on. Experience helps build confidence and positive feedback from attendees helps.  I recently delivered a workshop which didn’t go to plan so I’ll need to reflect on that experience for next time. Being introduced to the lesson plan template used by the subject librarians here has been a great help too.

At least if I can get a group of prisoners to play ‘What’s the time Mr. Wolf’ then I know I can definitely deliver a training workshop to a room of lecturers. Although teaching those who teach for a living can be quite a daunting prospect in itself.